Research topics

Locomotion
Shape shifting (self-reconfiguration)

A. Shape shifting (Self-reconfiguration)

Varieties of shape shifting algorithm is examined by both experiment and simulation.
1. Self-assembly Reconfiguration from an arbitrary structure to a target structure
(a big challenge)
2. Cluster flow Parallel local reconfiguration forming global flow of module culsters

movies
3. Sub-structure
formation
Generation of small walkers
click figure
to see movie ->
4. Metamorphosis Small scale reconfiguration. e.g. a legged walker to a snake
movies
5. Self-repair Removal of a damaged module and reconfiguration (future work)
6. Re-connection Re-connection of seperate robots (future work)
movie

B. Locomotion

Locomotion control of M-TRAN is based on biologically inspired algorithm called Central Pattern Generator (CPG). It has enormous adaptability and robustness.
1. Locomotion pattern design
and Experiment
Quasi-optimal pattern of multi-DOF motions were designed for various configurations of M-TRANs by offline calcuration by using locomotion controller based on CPG (Central Pattern Generator) network and optimizer based on GA (Genetic Algorithm). Obtained locomotion gait patterns were evaluated by experiments, where each gait pattern was played back.
many movies->
2. Locomotion control Real time CPG control. Obtained quasi-optimal locomotion controllers, i.e., CPG network controller, were installed on modules' hardware. Distributed locomotion control was realized. Real time CPG control showed better performance than the play-back control above.
click figure
to see movie ->
real time

C. Adaptation

Some studies has been made to realize the M-TRAN adaptive to the environmental changes. (Kamimura IROS2004)

1. Adaptive locomotion by CPG control By the real time CPG control, locomotion gait is generated adaptively on the surface of variable friction.
click figure
to see movie ->
2. Metamorphosis for adaptation to environment When any module detects too large error from regulated motion, it initiates metamorphosis of the total body to adapt the environmental change and the robot start locomotion in another structure.
click figure
to see movie ->


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